Predatory Opportunist versus Warrior Women
‘It’s not rocket science; it’s just standards.’
Kate Germano, Lt. Col. USMC, Retired
By Ladson F. Mills III
America’s third revolution has begun. We are firmly in a cultural war and all that remains to be seen is whether it will remain bloodless. However, if left unchallenged it will become more vicious and brutal than the French Revolution; known for its cultural insanity.
Predatory opportunism now dominates American society. Like a violent strain of virus it permeates every aspect of our lives. No mistakes, wrong ideas, or youthful indiscretions can be forgiven if one is judged to be on the wrong side of the political spectrum.
Senate Democrats seem to be heeding an observation from Sir Winston Churchill that, “In war it is not so much a matter of who is right but who is left.”
It should be no surprise that additional females were found to make accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. This page is right out of the obstructionist playbook.
Make no mistake about it, the issue will not be decided under the rule of law, but by the winds of politics. What cannot be proven with evidence will be determined through volume. And the more obscure the details the better for Kavanaugh’s opponents.
UN Ambassador Nicki Haley stated that Kavanaugh’s accusers deserve to be heard. Fair enough, as long as Judge Brett Kavanaugh is heard as well. And if the accusations prove false then he is a victim along with the American people. Excuses must not be tolerated for the perpetrators. They will need to face criminal charges as well as contempt of Congress.
During the 1990s the United States Military fell prey to this type of predatory opportunism. Committed to moving females into areas previously denied women created unique challenges for their full integration into combat. An open and honest evaluation of full gender inclusion was critical, but the political climate would not allow for it.
As sobering as this assessment may seem there is still hope. And this hope comes from the most unlikely of sources; an emerging group of “Warrior Women.”
Decisions are not made in a vacuum, and the 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination would set the stage for how accusations of sexual harassment were to be handled in the future.
Anita Hill, a law professor and former employee of the nominee testified during a nationally televised congressional hearing to detailed and explicit sexual harassment while working for Thomas. Although Clarence Thomas eventually gained confirmation, the process proved to be partisan, heated, and highly personal.
In the midst of this climate the 1991 Tailhook Convention (a fraternity of Naval Aviation) took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Known for its raucous behavior the event would later be described in terms reminiscent of the 1970’s movie Animal House.
Attending the Las Vegas convention was a female admiral’s aide Lieutenant Paula Coughlin who claimed to have been groped while walking down a hallway. Her allegations would lead to a probe of wide-spread sexual harassment during the convention. The ensuing investigations would deteriorate into what is now accepted as the intentional ignoring of inconvenient evidence and due process for the accused.
Concerns over Coughlin’s veracity continued throughout the investigation. Ample evidence existed that she was a willing and enthusiastic participant in the party-like atmosphere. Two female pilots attending the convention testified to witnessing Coughlin with her skirt provocatively raised participating in a leg-shaving contest. The leg-shaving pilot dubbed ‘the Barber of Seville’ received an encouraging written message from Coughlin saying ‘You made me see God . . . The Paulster.’
When these women attempted to provide their evidence to investigators, it was made clear to them that negative information regarding Coughlin was not being sought.
Coughlin initially reported one assailant as being African-American but quickly changed her testimony. She further misidentified another stating that he was recognizable by his distinctive orange colored shirt. The officer was proven to have been elsewhere at the time of the incident and pictures were found of him dressed in a green shirt displaying his squadron logo.
Paula Coughlin became the face of Tailhook, but many cite the case of Lieutenant Elizabeth Warnick as a more definitive example of the emerging witch hunt culture. Warnick initially claimed to have been sexually assaulted multiple times during the convention as well as being threatened with physical harm after she returned to her home base.
She later confessed to making up the accusations to keep her fiancé from discovering her participation in consensual sex during the convention.
Warnick was never charged with making false allegations.
The early 21st century, however, brought rapid changes within the armed forces. The last thing that appears to have been anticipated by the predatory opportunist was the embracing of martial values such as honor, commitment and courage by military females.
All efforts became focused on bringing about the total inclusion of women, and in 2015, First Lieutenant Shaye Haver (25) and Captain Kristen Griest (26) became the first females to complete the demanding Army Ranger School successfully.
On September 9, 2015, People Magazine published a scathing article by investigative journalist Susan Katz Keating. She stood by confidential sources from Ranger School instructors who stated they were ‘under huge pressure to comply’ and ‘it was very much politicized.’
The Army found itself in conflict with an emerging warrior culture that unlike the past could not be easily dismissed as good old boys angry over the loss of their males-only club. This clash emanated from the emerging “Warrior Women” who wanted to earn and achieve success on personal ability rather than politically directed lowered standards.
Griest’s candidly admitted that she and other women candidates failed several critical areas of the course and expected to be dropped. Female candidate Billi Blaschke insisted, ‘We want to do it on our own.’
There now existed within the Army a growing culture of females whose commitment to martial values over-shadowed political manipulation. Physically competing with men at the same level would be challenging and take time to evolve, but these women were willing to make an effort.
These warrior women identified more with warrior males rather than those who seemed intent on using them for personal self-promotion.
Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Kate Germano was an integral part of this emerging group. Germano is the personification of the tough, feisty Marine Corps Officer who is unafraid to take clear stands and openly speak her mind regardless of consequences. Germano encountered resistance in her efforts to push women into competition with male counterparts without standards being compromised.
In June 2015 Kate Germano was assigned as Commanding Officer of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island, South Carolina. She was now responsible for the recruit training of all female Marines and quickly moved to address the inadequacies in female training.
Germano believed that by lowering female standards lower expectations were created, reinforcing a loss of respect from male counterparts. It fostered the ‘protector attitude’ often displayed by men toward women in combat. It resulted in a ‘double bind’ furthering the stereotype that women cannot live up to male standards.
Germano was under no illusion that achieving these standards would be immediate. She was, however, convinced that with proper training higher standards would follow. And her tenacity produced unprecedented success, especially in marksmanship.
Since women were not allowed in combat, marksmanship instructors spent less time with their training. While men qualified at a 90 percent rate, women remained in the 70 percent range. Germano convinced marksmanship instructors to spend equal time with the females, and they were soon being qualified at the rate as their male counterparts.
Despite such noteworthy success, Germano encountered increasing hostility. Not only second-guessed by senior males but females as well. Women recruits accused her of creating a ‘hostile work environment.’
An investigation found her guilty of brow-beating female recruits for being unable to attain the male standards. Although the military’s sexual assault study had found binge drinking to be a contributing factor in 75 percent of male-on-female sexual assaults she was criticized for cautioning female recruits to refrain from such behavior.
Germano admits to warning women about alcohol abuse but not in the way accused. She was shocked at never being interviewed by investigators or allowed to submit her side of the story. Her supporters note that she may be the only Marine Officer in history to be relieved of command for successfully exceeding Marine Corps expectations.
Although Kate Germano retired from the Marines, her vision came true. A female eventually passed the demanding Advanced Marine Infantry Course. The women achieved success on merit, and the standards did not have to be compromised.
America is in desperate need of more “Warrior Women” who are willing to place principles above politics. Males are now the ones in a “double bind.” Any man who fails to adhere to the predatory opportunist, politically correct, party line is stereotypically dismissed. America’s current political leadership has proven itself to be embarrassingly lacking.
Women do not need to gain advancement through lowered standards and cheap political tricks. Kate Germano, Kristen Griest, Shaye Haver as well as many others have proven that genuine success is achievable.
Are there others?
If so, your country needs you now.
Ladson F. Mills III, a former Marine Corps Line Officer and Navy Chaplain, is the founder of Setebos-
Sixpence Freelance Writing Ltd. He lives with his wife in Charleston, South Carolina. He is a regular contributor to The Covert Letter and Virtueonline. Mills’ book, Abandoned Shipmate, The Destruction of Coast Guard Captain Ernie Blanchard, is scheduled for publication in late fall.
*Excerpts from Abandoned Shipmate provided the background for this Story.